Decathlon Welcomes All Students

Sarah Sault, Mirada Staff

The Academic Decathlon team spends months training for the Feb. 3 competition.

The multiple category event is African themed this year, meaning that all of the questions, with the exception of math and science, are based on African culture.

The team had its first meeting on Nov. 15, giving them almost four months to prepare. However, they are still accepting new team members.

The first Academic Decathlon took place in a Southern California high school in 1968. Dr. Robert Peterson dreamed of creating an academic program while a prisoner-or-war in Nazi Germany.

Nearly 25 years later, his dream became reality. He wanted students with all grade point averages to join, giving an opportunity to all students to broaden their minds.

The program consists of nine students. Three “honors” students, with a GPA above 3.75, three “scholastic” students with a GPA between 3.0 and 3.749, and three “varsity” students with a GPA below 3.0.

Every participant must compete in every event, regardless of personal preference. However, when studying, students focus in on certain events, depending on what they enjoy most.

The competition starts with individual tests, with each school’s total scores determining place. Each participant must also present two speeches, one that is to be prepared before hand, and can be on any subject, and one impromptu speech, with the subject given at the competition.

The final section of the competition is the only collaborative one, called the “Super Quiz”. Three teammates work together in solving difficult multiple choice problems in front of a live audience.

Another section of the Decathlon is the interview portion. Since the ultimate goal Academic Decathlon is to better students prepare for the future, the interview portion is very important.

They have seven minutes to present themselves in the most interesting way possible, and answer questions about interests, goals and background information.

Another portion of the competition is the essay. Students have 50 minutes to write a compelling, well-structured essay on one of the Academic Decathlon subjects in the theme of competition, this year being Africa.

The largest portion of the competition is the test of knowledge. Each student must take seven multiple choice tests, one in each subject.

The Academic Decathlon subjects are: art, music, social science, science, economics, literature and math.

The team will meet every Tuesday at lunch to practice fun problems, and prepare for the intense competition.